Crankset MTB: everything about the MTB crank

A mountain bike crankset connects the pedals to the bottom bracket. The crankset consists of two arms and one or more chainrings. Singlespeed cranksets are very popular these days for mountain bikes. This is a single chainring. On this page I tell you everything you need to know about the crankset of a mountain bike.

What is an MTB crankset?

The crankset is an important part of a mountain bike drivetrain. To transfer power from your legs to your mountain bike, a crankset is necessary. This is because this is the connection between the MTB pedals and the bottom bracket. The crankset often belongs to a component group with the MTB derailleur, the MTB cassette (sprockets).

A crankset consists of crank arms (left and right) and a chainring. There can be several, in which case there is also a front derailleur.

crankset mtb
A singlespeed crankset from Shimano. ©

Different types of MTB cranks

There are different types of MTB cranks. And I’m talking about specific brands, but about versions. As I just mentioned, the number of chainrings can differ. Let’s list the different types of cranksets with the corresponding advantages and disadvantages.

Single, double or triple?

Nowadays a mountain bike is often equipped with a singlespeed crankset. This is a crankset with only one chainring on the front. This does not involve a front derailleur, so you only have one shifter. The big advantage of such a singlespeed crankset is that you don’t have to change gears as often. In addition, there is also easier maintenance and less weight.

If you want to enjoy a larger shifting range, you can also opt for a double or even triple crankset. This involves two (double) or three (triple) chainrings at the front. The big advantage of this is that you can achieve a lighter and higher gear than a singlespeed. However, there is more mountain bike maintenance here; after all, you have to deal with an extra derailleur and more sprockets.

Buying a new chainring: buying tips

Eventually you will have to replace the chainring of the cassette. The teeth of the chainrings wear out, so that your MTB chain runs less smoothly and you can change gears less easily. When looking for a new chainring for the crankset, it is important to pay attention to the following factors.

  • Chainring for correct crank type: check which type of crank you have (single, double, etc.)
  • Measure the BCD (Bolt Circle Diameter): the diameter through the center of the blade bolts
  • Determine the number of teeth: the more hilly area, the fewer teeth

The number of teeth is a personal choice. In addition, the brand also plays a very important role. Where possible, go for the same brand of chainring as the crankset or choose one of the better brands. Good, leading chainring brands include:

  • Shimano
  • Sram
  • Campagnolo
  • Rotor
  • FSA

Frequently asked questions about an MTB crankset

Why does a mountain bike crankset often only have one chainring?

During mountain biking, the shift range with one chainring at the front is often enough. The cassette of a mountain bike is often very large. A big advantage of one chainring is less shifting possibilities (and mistakes during shifting) and less maintenance.

What kind of crankset are there?

There are different types of MTB cranksets, in which the number of chainrings plays a major role. For example, there are singlespeed cranksets with one chainring. But there are also triple cranksets with no less than three chainrings. There is also a front derailleur, which entails more maintenance.

What are good brands?

The following brands are known for their high quality cranksets: Shimano, SRAM and FSA. In addition, brands such as Campagnolo and Rotor also offer good chainrings for cranksets.

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